Major advances in DNA-sequencing technology and its commercial development have driven down the time and cost of sequencing a human genome. In 2018, we will at last start to understand the commercial, clinical, regulatory, ethical and legal issues unlocked by the Human Genome Project.
[A]side from the cost of professional analysis and interpretation, there’s the issue of storing all this information.
Current low-cost cloud-based storage is available for £0.004 per gigabyte per month. Sounds cheap, right? But sequencing a single tumour creates about two terabytes of data, so a lab doing just 1,000 cases a year would have to spend around £96,000 annually. Further, readily accessible secure cloud storage that meets regulatory requirements costs much more, and these data storage costs are cumulative – thus, our hypothetical sequencing lab might be spending more than £1 million annually after five years.
Healthcare workers will need this information widely available if precision medicine is to work. The data must be scalable, harmonised, and above all available not only to physicians and patients, but to scientists and clinical investigators if we are to continue to learn about the human genome. In 2018, we will work out how we can handle it, store it, share it and make the best use of it.
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